Osmium Tetroxide – a New Chemical Terrorism Weapon?
A highly toxic chemical has emerged as a key component of an alleged terrorist plot in London. Serving legitimate functions in biological research and in specialized chemical industry, osmium tetroxide’s suitability as a terrorist agent – a dual use compound – is limited, despite the characterizations of it generating “chemical fallout.” Appearance in a Recent Terrorist Plot. On 30 March 2004, hundreds of British anti-terrorism police conducted raids throughout the London area after tracking a group of terrorist suspects over the course of several months. Authorities subsequently arrested eight British citizens of Pakistani origin, who were allegedly involved in the planning stages of a terrorist attack. In the following week, reports emerged that these suspects, including a Canadian and a British-Algerian, were researching the potential of detonating a chemical bomb in a crowded, civilian location within London. Authorities conducted the raids at 24 locations within London after learning from GCHQ, the British electronic eavesdropping intelligence agency, that these terrorist suspects were discussing the use of osmium tetroxide during phone calls among themselves within Britain and to Pakistan. Some sources claim that the U.S. National Security Agency collaborated with its British counterpart to help intercept the phone calls implicating the suspects in planning a chemical attack. The British Home Office would not, however, comment on the alleged scenario, as the case is still under investigation by authorities. Full Story